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You may fire when ready.
~ Grand Moff Tarkin ordering the firing of the Death Star's superlaser at planets.

Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, also known as Governor Tarkin, is a major antagonist in the Star Wars franchise.

He was an Imperial governor and in charge of the Imperial military battle station known as the Death Star. He acted as Darth Vader's superior. After Princess Leia has been captured by the Empire and has been brought onto the Death Star, Tarkin manages to convince her to tell him the location of the rebel base, threatening Leia's home planet Alderaan. However, after finding out the base location Tarkin activates the Death Star nonetheless, destroying Alderaan and killing billions. He then has the Death Star take course on Yavin 4 where he intends to wipe out the rebels once and for all. However, before he can reach his goal the Death Star is blown up by rebel fighters, with Tarkin being one of the casualties.

Tarkin is the secondary antagonist of the first film in the original trilogy A New Hope, a cameo character in the last film of the prequel trilogy Revenge of the Sith, the tertiary antagonist of the 2016 movie Rogue One, and one of the main antagonists of the 2014-current animated prequel series Star Wars: Rebels, serving as a supporting antagonist of the first, second, and third seasons and will likely be one of the main antagonists of the fourth and final season.

He was portrayed by the late Peter Cushing in A New Hope. In Revenge of the Sith he was portrayed by Wayne Pygram. In Rogue One Guy Henry portrayed him, with CGI being used to superimpose Cushing's face over Henry. In his animated TV appearances, he was voice by Stephen Stanton who also voiced Stinky Pete from Toy Story 2 in videogames.

History

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Tarkin first met Darth Vader as his past self Anakin Skywalker in the 2008-2013 series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Revenge of the Sith

He makes a brief cameo in the last movie of the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith as he, along with Anakin, who is now Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine supervise the construction of the Death Star on board of an Imperial Star Destroyer.

Star Wars Rebels

Tarkin is one of the main antagonists of the new animated canon series Star War Rebels, Some years later during the era of the Empire, Tarkin became Grand Moff and traveled to the planet Lothal to find a way to hunt the rebels of the planet.

Rogue One

Tarkin-Rogue-One

Tarkin in Rogue One

In Rogue One, After Imperial Director Orson Krennic has succeeded in building the Death Star, Tarkin arrived on the station to have its powers demonstrated to him. Nearing the planet Jedha, Krennic offers to use the Death Star to destroy the entire planet. However, Tarkin tells him to merely use a low-powered blast on the planet's capital Jedha City. After the Death Star used a single ignition blast to annihilate the capital and the nearby area, an impressed Tarkin reveals to Krennic that he will be taking command of the station as of now, using the security breach under Krennic's command as a pretext to remove Krennic from his position. He also tells Krennic to spread the story that Jedha City was destroyed in a mining accident, as he does not want the Senate to find out about the Death Star.

When the Imperial base on Scarif (where all information on the Death Star is stored) is attacked by rebels, Tarkin orders the jump to hyperspace, just as Rebel maverick Jyn Erso (the protagonist of the film) managed to retrieve the plans and send them to the nearby Rebel fleet before confronting Krennic. Arriving in the moment of the Rebels' moment of triumph, Tarkin activates the Death Star to destroy the Imperial base on Scarif in order to prevent any information leak, which ultimately kills all the remaining Rebels and Imperial forces (including Jyn and Krennic). Despite having destroyed the base, Tarkin is furious to hear that the plans have fallen to Rebel hands thanks to Jyn's efforts.

Star Wars: A New Hope

In the first officially launched movie of the Star Wars franchise re-released as A New Hope, Grand Moff Tarkin appears with Darth Vader, at a meeting of the joint chiefs where General Tagge and Admiral Motti were arguing over the theft of the plans by the Rebellion. Tarkin announced to the joint chiefs that Emperor Palpatine had just dissolved the Senate and left the power to all regional governors of the systems, and that fear of the Death Star would keep the population in line.

When Vader warned the chiefs about the station's power being insignificant compared to the Force, Motti mocked Vader for his scorer’s ways. Vader responded by using the Force to choke Motti. Seeing that Vader fully intended to kill Motti, Tarkin ordered Vader to let him go, Vader did as he wished. Tarkin put an end to the pointless bickering, saying that Lord Vader would retrieve the plans and that the Death Star would crush the rebellion.

Tarkin and Lord Vader held Princess Leia Organa captive on board the Death Star. They attempted to interrogate her to reveal the location of the Rebel Base. After Leia told him the base was on the planet of Dantooine, Tarkin decides to destroy the princess's home planet Alderaan anyway, and then deal with her "rebel friends" later. This makes him cross the Moral Event Horizon like he's driving a spaceship into it.

After the truth is revealed that the rebel base was not at Dantooine, Tarkin planned to have Leia Organa killed. However, after the Millennium Falcon had landed on one of the Death Star bays, Vader convinced Tarkin to wait as he feels the presence of his old master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Tarkin reassures him that the Jedi are extinct, despite Vader informing that Obi-Wan and many other Jedi survived Order 66. Tarkin demands that Obi-Wan can't be allowed to escape, to which Vader assures him that Obi-Wan isn't planning to escape and that he must face him alone.

After Princess Leia is rescued by Luke Skywalker and Han Solo while Obi-Wan sacrifices himself to let them escape, Tarkin has the Death Star follow the Millennium Falcon thanks to a signal beacon planted on the Millennium Falcon before they escaped. They go to the Yavin system, where he plots with Vader the destruction of the Rebel base on Yavin IV once in range.

During the Battle of Yavin, Chief Bast learned from his subordinates that they analyzed the attack and found there could be a danger. Bast suggested Tarkin evacuate but Tarkin refuses, confident that the Death Star will annihilate the Rebel base with success. However, Luke uses the Force to guide his proton torpedoes to the exhaust port in order to destroy the Death Star, killing Tarkin and all remaining Imperial personnel on board while Vader escapes in his TIE Advanced x1.

Legacy

After his death, Tarkin became reviled in the Rebel Alliance and the New Republic for his destruction of Alderaan. However the First Order held Tarkin in high esteem, putting his last name on the armband insignia for the rank of Major.

Personality

Tarkin was an extremely manipulative, relentless, calculating, intense, sly, and ruthless man and was known for his sharp memory. He never forgot a favor or a slight and he even was capable of recalling people from meetings that took place over a decade before, including he had only met them once.

For example, when Cienna Ree greeted him in the Death Star, he was easily able to recognize her from the encounter he had with her when she was a child.

Tarkin's relationship with Vader

Tarkin and Anakin developed a mutual respect for each other due to the fact both were hardliners. This became strained after Ahsoka was framed by Barriss Offee. Anakin saw right away that Ahsoka had been framed and had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but Tarkin refused to even see this and viciously and relentlessly prosecuted Ahsoka despite the fact that there was virtually no actual evidence of her so-called treason.

After Anakin became Darth Vader, Tarkin was the first to meet the newborn Sith Lord. Tarkin first met Vader after the Emperor placed him in charge of the Construction of the first Death Star. They began working together after some lost Jedi were traced to Kashyyyk. Tarkin urged Vader to let the Jedi land onworld so they could use their presence as a pretext to invade the planet and enslave the Wookies so they could be used to help construct the Death Star. Tarkin was impressed by Vader's leadership during the Subjugation of Kasyyyk and asked the Emperor if he could call on Vader's services when he needed them. Although Tarkin had a good working relationship with Vader, whom he found efficient and considered an ally in the Imperial hierarchy, he was also unsettled by Vader's supernatural powers and mysterious nature, and disliked it when Palpatine used Vader as a check on Tarkin himself. Although Tarkin mutually respected Vader, he secretly did not trust or personally like him, possibly because Vader relied heavily on the Force. Tarkin was one of the few people who knew that Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader were the same person.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Tarkin is sometimes regarded as the main antagonist of A New Hope, as he is more dangerous than Vader, and Emperor Palpatine, the true main villain of the original trilogy, did not make his first appearance until The Empire Strikes Back. Also, Peter Cushing, the actor who played the character, got high billing behind Mark Hamill (Luke), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia). Plus, in Return of The Jedi, Vader redeems himself when he kills Palpatine, while Tarkin never redeemed himself.
    • However, Vader is the main antagonist in A New Hope since he has more screentime than Tarkin.
  • Tarkin actor Peter Cushing got along quite well with both Vader actor David Prowse and Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher. Fisher later said she found it difficult to act as though she hated Tarkin due to how much she liked Cushing.
  • Tarkin was promoted as the main antagonist of Rogue One, but that role was taken in Kreenic since he is a promote character.
  • Tarkin is the very first Star Wars villain to be Pure Evil.
  • The scene where Tarkin interrogates Princess Leia for the whereabouts of the rebel base was later parodied in the Pixar film Toy Story when Sid Phillips burns Woody's head.
  • Tarkin has a striking resemblance to Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, They both have high cheekbones, a similar hairstyle, gray hair, and a face as long and thin as their noses, and both are Pure Evil.
  • Despite his respect for Palpatine, Tarkin does not seem to care about Palpatine's fate, and is more eager to gain the Empire for himself than to serve Palpatine.
  • Tarkin's evil is regarded with close respect to Palpatine, and despite far smaller screentime, his destruction of Alderaan is regarded as one of the worst actions of the saga.
  • In Revenge of the Sith Lucas briefly considered using CGI and existing footage of Cushing to recreate Tarkin before deciding the footage wasn't good enough nor was the technology quite advanced enough yet. He instead cast a heavily made up Wayne Pygram as Tarkin due to Pygram's strong resemblance to Cushing. In 2016 director Gareth Edwards felt the technology had advanced far enough to use CGI to superimpose Cushing's face over Tarkin actor Guy Henry's face in the film Rogue One. Cushing's family was heavily involved in the recreation of CGI Tarkin and provided input to Rogue One producers.
  • Tarkin is one of the few Star Wars antagonists to have killed main characters (He is responsible for the death of Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor). Interesting thing, there is not a Sith nor a Force handler.
  • General Hux is his counterpart in the sequel trilogy.
  • After Anakin's transformation into Darth Vader, Tarkin suspected Skywalker had become Vader, but had never been able to confirm it.


Star Wars Villains

Bounty Hunters
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Confederacy of Independent Systems
Leaders: Darth Sidious | Count Dooku | Nute Gunray | Passel Argente | Poggle the Lesser | San Hill | Shu Mai | Wat Tambor | Po Nudo | Tikkes
Military Leaders: Admiral Trench | General Grievous | General Kalani | Lok Durd
Other Officials: Asajj Ventress | Durge | EV-A4-D | Gizor Dellso | Jenna Zan Arbor | Keeper Agruss | Miraj Scintel | Osi Sobeck | Sora Bulq
Footsoldiers: Battle Droids | Super Battle Droids

Clone Army
501st Legion | Commander Bacara | Commander Cody

Eternal Empire
Leader: Arcann | Valkorion | Vaylin
Soldiers: Knights of Zakuul

First Order
Leader: Supreme Leader Snoke
Officials: Captain Phasma | General Hux | Kylo Ren
Soldiers: Stormtroopers | FN-2199
Other Officials: Carise Sindian

Galactic Empire
Leader: Emperor Palpatine
Dark Assassins: Darth Vader | Galen Marek | Jerec | Joruus C'baoth | Luuke Skywalker | Mara Jade | Sarcev Quest | X1
Inquisitorius: The Grand Inquisitor | Fifth Brother | Seventh Sister | Sixth Brother | Eighth Brother
Imperial Officers: Admiral Ozzel | Admiral Piett | Arihnda Pryce | Commander Jerjerrod | General Veers | Grand Moff Tarkin | C.A. Motti | Merillion Tarko | Natasi Daala | Ozzik Sturn | Rom Mohc | Grand Admiral Thrawn | Trioculus | Ysanne Isard | Admiral Kassius Konstantine
Other Officials: Agent Kallus | Armand Isard | Carnor Jax | Mas Amedda | Orson Krennic | Sate Pestage
Soldiers: Death Troopers | Emperor's Royal Guard | Stormtroopers

One Sith
Leader: Darth Krayt
Sith Lords: Darth Azard | Darth Havok | Darth Luft | Darth Maladi | Darth Nihl | Darth Rauder | Darth Reave | Darth Ruyn | Darth Stryfe | Darth Talon | Darth Wyyrlok (I) | Darth Wyyrlok (II) | Darth Wyyrlok (III) | Darth Vurik | Darth Wredd | Saarai | Vul Isen
Soldiers: Darth Krayt's Sith Troopers | Morlish Veed

Sith Empire
Leader: Sith Emperor Vitiate
Dark Council: Darth Acharon | Darth Arctis | Darth Arho | Darth Arkous | Darth Azamin | Darth Baras | Darth Charnus | Darth Decimus | Darth Drear | Darth Ekkage | Darth Gean | Darth Hadra | Darth Howl | Darth Igrol | Darth Jadus | Darth Karrid | Darth Marr | Darth Mekhis | Darth Mortis | Darth Nox | Darth Nyriss | Darth Ravage | Darth Thanaton | Darth Vengean | Darth Vowrawn | Darth Zhorrid
The Emperor's Wrath: Scourge
Sith Lords: Aloysius Kallig | Darth Andru | Darth Angral | Darth Atroph | Darth Cendence | Darth Chratis | Darth Fastus | Darth Glovoc | Darth Gravus | Darth Ikoral | Darth Jaga | Darth Kallous | Darth Lachris | Darth Malgus | Darth Nurin | Darth Ouzal | Darth Sajar | Darth Serevin | Darth Silthaar | Darth Skotia | Darth Sorranos | Darth Tormen | Darth Venemal | Darth Vich | Darth Viktus | Darth Vilus | Darth Xedrix | Darth Zash | Lord Draahg | Lord Nefarid | Lord Praven | Lord Sadic | Lord Tarnis | Lord Vivicar | Vindican |
Military: Lieutenant Pierce | Malavai Quinn | Moff Broysc | Sith Trooper

Other Sith and Fallen Jedi
Abeloth | Ajunta Pall | Aleema Keto | Alema Rar | Ashara Zavros | Atris | Azrakel | Barriss Offee | Bengel Morr | Dark Apprentice | The Dark Underlord | Darth Andeddu | Darth Bane | Darth Bandon | Darth Cognus | Darth Desolous | Darth Gravid | Darth Guile | Darth Homiiz | Darth Karnage | Darth Malak | Darth Maul | Darth Minax | Darth Morias | Darth Nihilus | Darth Phobos | Darth Plagueis | Darth Revan | Darth Ramage | Darth Rivan | Darth Ruin | Darth Simi | Darth Sion | Darth Scabrous | Darth Tenebrous | Darth Traya | Darth Vectivus | Darth Venamis | Darth Voren | Darth Zannah | Desann | Exar Kun | Freedon Nadd | Haazen | Jaesa Willsaam | Kazdan Paratus | Khem Val | Ludo Kressh | Lumiya | Maris Brood | Marka Ragnos | Naga Sadow | Pong Krell | Reborn | Savage Opress | Sith Master (Dxun) | Son | Tavion | Ulic Qel-Droma | Vemrin | Xalek | Xanatos | XoXaan

Other
King Adas | Almec | Andronikos Revel | Burbakker Teep | Cornelius Evazan | Chop'aa Notimo | Durga the Hutt | The Eagle | Gardulla the Elder | Garnac | General Vaklu | Gorog | Granta Omega | Hondo Ohnaka | Jabba the Hutt | Kleef | Maketh Tua | Meeko Ghintee | Moralo Eval | Ponda Baba | Rakghouls | Saul Karath | Sebulba | Slick | Teedo | Thrackan Sal-Solo | Todo 360 | Unkar Plutt | Visquis | Zillo Beast | Ziro the Hutt | Zorba the Hutt

Other Small Organizations
Bando Gora: Komari Vosa | Groff Haugg
Black Sun: Prince Xizor
Brotherhood of Darkness: Skere Kaan
Death Watch: Pre Vizsla | Bo-Katan | Tor Vizsla
Galactic Alliance Guard: Darth Caedus | Tahiri Veila
Nightsisters: Asajj Ventress | Mother Talzin | Old Daka | Zalem
Prophets of the Dark Side: Cronal | Darth Millennial | Jedgar | Kadann
Star Cabal: Hunter
Trade Federation: Daultay Dofine | Lott Dod | Nute Gunray | Rune Haako
Yuuzhan Vong: Onimi | Peace Brigade | Shimrra Jamaane

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